Airport Depature Tax Changes, February 1, 2007
As of February 1, 2007, TWO things happened at exactly the same time 1) the departure fee went to 700 baht; 2) the system of collecting the departure tax by means of a separate payment, evidenced by a receipt, which would be punched by someone just before the immigration windows, was abolished, and was replaced by having the price included in your airline ticket.
At some point well prior to February 1, 2007, ticket agents and airlines began including the 700 baht departure fee in the price of the ticket, for departures out of Thailand set for on or after February 1, 2007. So if you bought a ticket in November for departure from Thailand after February 1, the fee was probably included in your ticket.
If you are departing after February 1 then the price of the departure fee should be in your ticket. If it is not, I understand that there is some interim means by which you pay it separately. I don't know how they will know if it is included or not. I guess the airline check in staff have to peruse your ticket in some detail. If it was not included, and they catch it, you will have to pay 700 baht. Eventually, in a few more months, the change will have completely worked its way through the system.
scuba diving @ Shark Point
The diving in Thailand is great.
Warm water, good vis, and an abundance of things to see.
I've been before, and will come again...
We did 5 dives over two days this trip (King Cruiser wreck, Shark Point, Koh Dok Mai, Koh Rachayai) with Shark Point being the highlight. No shark, but saw eels, boxfish, a bearded scorpionfish, an octopuss, and many other cool things...
Will definately do a liveabord in the Similans next trip to Thailand. I hooked up with www.seaking-diving.com / West Coast Divers before leaving.
A small operation, but has qualified, good instructors.
We got a great deal, with two of us doing our AOW through them for 11,000B each, including all books, equipment rentals for the equipment we didn't bring, and transportation/meals.
Wetsuits - Buy it while its hot
If you are a diver, and have the extra days, Chalong Bay has a shop called Hot Wave. Custom made wetsuits to fit you and you choose your colors and zipper placements. I bought one after I was first certified, and have never had a problem with it. It has over 350 dives on it and still in great shape. The shop is small but well known. Make sure you wear clothing you can change easily in and out of each time you go back for fittings. The staff is very nice and patient with you as you will run into more designs than you ever thought possible. Helps if you know what colors you want and where you want zippers before you go. . Custom wetsuits at Hot Wave in Chalong Depending on the thickness and the extras of knee pads, elbow pads, pockets and if you have the days to wait they can screenprint a design on it for you. Have your name or dive club. Prices are cheaper than what you pay for wetsuits out of the dive shops and these will last and are fitted for you. Why just buy what everyone has, when you make it your own and add some of your personality to it.
Saxafone bar is located on the Beach Road, Patong down the quiter end of the beach. The bar is from the original Saxafone Bar which is located in Bangkok. The bar is set up for blues and jazz and has indoor and outdoor seating. The Bar also has food but I have not tried it. Each night the bar has at least two different bands doing jazz and blues music. We had one of the best nights out in Phuket here. The drinks are strong and reasonably prices and the service is pretty good. The bar is popular with tourists and Thai's. Casual
Around by scooter
For a good driver I can recommend renting a scooter, its the best way to get around. And very cheap. But you need to be avare, traffic is lefthanded and in same places chaotic. But you can always stay away from busy roads and town centers and just drive slowly on junglehillroads and watch the beautifull scenery going by.
We rented our scooter from an older, religious couple to avoid any "pettifogging". Lucky us cause one day on a gas station boy who refueled our scooter knocked it down. Luckily only the brake handhold got broken but some other rental could have ripped us of because of it.
Always carry drivers licence with you. Police will stop you almost every day and sometimes several times and if you dont have it, you need to go to policestation to pay the bill before they give you your scooter back. The bill is not big but the trouble is.
And its also possible to get parking ticket as well, like we did. In that case the police will chain your scooter and will unchain it only after you pay the ticket in policestation.
But policemen seem to be very nice in Thailand anyways =)